The internet is the world’s biggest shopping mall. You can buy goods from hundreds of thousands of online stores, located all around the world. You can literally get many goods for half the price (and less) by buying them online. There’s almost nothing you can’t buy online, from white goods, to clothes, pharmaceuticals, insurance, books, games, toys, tools, car, boats – even homes.
What’s more, using various shopping aggregation sits, you can immediately compare prices between online stores. Try GetPrice, MyShopping, Shopbot and Ozbargain.
The internet has extensive mapping services that can allow you to zoom in and out from a global view to a street-level view. You can use services like Google Maps for GPS navigation, traffic directions and even an information resource. You can even make hard copy print outs of where you need to go so that you can take with you when you leave the house.
Entertainment and movies
For many people DVDs and other hard media is a thing of the past. You can download a full range of books, movies and music directly to your computer, smartphone or tablet. You can even then hook up or stream that media to your TV set.
There are also the immensely popular social media tools that let people upload their own videos. YouTube (www.youtube.com), for example, has millions of videos that you can watch in your web browser, ranging from the bizarre to the hilarious.
There are lots of online stores and sources for media, too, including the ABC, Apple iTunes, Google Play and Telstra BigPond Movies.
You may not be into the latest shoot-em ups, but did you know that the Internet allows you to play even simple games live with other players around the world. You can play card games, Scrabble, mah-jong, checkers, chess and many other games over the internet.
A new Windows computer actually has a lot of those games built in, but if you’re looking for more you can start with Facebook. Once you’ve set up a Facebook profile, you can add games (including Scrabble and other word games) and play with either your friends or with total strangers.
Moving your data around and backing it up
One of the great things about the internet is that it lets you grab your files from anywhere. You can also upload your files to online backup services – these are Internet hard drives that store your precious photos and important documents. That way even if you computer and camera are stolen or lost, you can always recover your documents.
If you’re looking to transfer files a good place to start is Dropbox, which creates an internet hard drive that you can copy files to, share with other people, and access from anywhere. You can also try YouSendIt, which lets you send large files (like photo collections) to other people using their email address.
If you’re worried about data loss, there are a host of great online backup services, including Carbonite, Mozy and Norton Online Backup.
This is really just the start of what you can do on the internet! You can bid at auctions, watch live sports and TV from around the world, download the latest episodes of TV shows, get new software for your PC and so much more. The internet is an enormous place, and even the most experienced users have only seen a fraction of what it can do.